Best Jeremiah Johnson Quotes

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This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, except insofar as Jeremiah Johnson quotes have to do with everything, now don’t they. And Rand keeps quoting Jeremiah Johnson at me all the time, which is pretty damn cocky of him for a starvin’ pilgrim. And then besides that, since I finally took the time to take these down, I need to put them somewhere where I’ll remember them. And who knows. Somebody else might enjoy them. Besides, it weren’t no trouble.

By the way, I’ve seen Jeremiah Johnson more than any other movie. If you haven’t seen it, you need to, especially if you like the outdoors. And if you’ve seen the movie a few times, you’ll know that these first two paragraphs include two references to the movie already.

Enjoy! And watch yer topknot.

“His name was Jeremiah Johnson. They say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit suited to the mountains. Nobody knows where abouts he come from and it don’t seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghosty stories about the tall hills didn’t scare him none. He was lookin for a Hawkin gun, 50 caliber or better. He settled for a 30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawkin. You couldn’t go no better. Bought him a good horse, traps and other truck that went with being a mountain man and said goodbye to whatever life was down there below. This here’s his story.”

“I, Hatchet Jack, bein’ of sound mind and broke legs do hereby leaveth my bear rifle to whatever finds it. Lord hope it be a white man. It is a good rifle and kilt the bear that kilt me. Anyway, I am dead. Yours truly, Hatchet Jack.”

“I am Bearclaw Chris Lapp, blood kin to the grizzer that bit Jim Bridger’s ass. You are molesting my hunt.”

“And I’m….”

“I know who you are! You’re the same dumb pilgrim I’ve been hearing for 20 days and smelling for three.”

“You sure are cocky for a starvin’ pilgrim.”

“If I head due west tomorrow, will I find good places to trap?”

“If you head due west or any other place tomorrow, you’ll be a starvin’ pilgrim in a week. You ain’t likely to meet up with someone of my good nature. The mountain’s got it’s own ways.”

“I swear, a woman’s breast is the hardest rock the Almighty ever made on this earth and I can find no sign on it.”

“Didn’t put enough dirt down. Saw it right off.”

“Elk don’t know how many feet a horse has!”

“Watch your topknot.”
“Yup. Watch your’n.”

“That Hatchet Jack was a wild one. [Lived with a she mountain lion in a cave up in the Musselshell.] She never did get used to him.”

“Do you speak any English? I don’t speak any Flathead you know. So don’t bother me. Neither of you.”

“Leave it be. Nothin’ wrong with quiet.”

“Ain’t that a lot easier than sayin’ all that gibberish.”

“It’s been a long time since I had so much of the English language spoke at me. I ain’t used to it.”

“She weren’t no trouble.”

“Maybe you best go down to a town. Get out of these mountains.”

“I’ve been to a town, Del.”

“Ain’t this something? I told my pap and mam I was coming to the mountains to trap and be a mountain man. Acted like they was gut-shot. Says: ‘Son, make your life. Go here. Here’s where the peoples is. Them mountains is is for animals and savages.’ I says ‘Mother Gue, the Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world.’ And by God I was right.”

“Yes, you were.”

“I ain’t never seen ’em, but my common sense tells me the Andes is foothills and the Alps is for children to climb. Keep good care of your hair. These here is God’s finest sculpturins and there ain’t no laws for the brave ones. And there ain’t no asylums for the crazy ones. And there ain’t no churches excepting for this right here. And there ain’t no priests excepting the birds. By God I are a mountain man and I’ll live until an arrow or a bullet finds me and then I’ll leave my bones right here on this great map of the magnificent…[rides into silence]”

“What’s on the spit?”

“Grown particular?”

“Not about feeding. Just the company I keep.”

“You’ve come far, pilgrim.”

“Feels like far.”

“T’were it worth the trouble?”

“Ha? What trouble.”

“You cook good rabbit pilgrim. Cold up here.”

“What brings you up so high?”

“Griz.”

“Ha. Griz.”

“Avalanche took the cabin. Lost my mule. We swum out of it. But no matter. Weren’t no griz left anyway.”

“Would you happen to know what month of the year it is?”

“No, I… I truly wouldn’t. I’m sorry pilgrim.”

“March. Maybe April.”

“March maybe. I don’t believe April. Winter’s a long time going, huh?”

“Ha… yuh.”

“Stays long this high. March is a green, muddy month down below. Some folks like it. Farmers mostly. You’ve done well to keep so much hair when so many’s after it. I hope you will fare well.”

58 Responses to “Best Jeremiah Johnson Quotes”

  1. Best movie EVER! I too have seen it way more times than a sane man should.

    You neglected to mention one of the best . . .

    JJ: What’s happened to your face
    Swan: Cherre ikupus
    JJ: Huh? My beard?

    Then later, after be sets his beaver traps for the day with Caleb and shaves . . .

    JJ: Well, don’t run off! It’s me!

    Some more . . .

    How long have you bneen carrying your Squaw, Johnson?

    So it’s like this . . . one at a time? Lucky they’s Crow. Apaches’d send fifty at once.

    JJ: You alright? (talking to Del Que barried up to his neck in the sand)
    DQ: Sure, sure. I got a fine horse under me!
    JJ: Injuns put cha here?
    DQ: Twern’t the Mormons.
    JJ: Anyone pass by recently?
    DQ: No ones passed by in front of me. Can’t say what’s happened behind me though.

    Too many more to mention.

  2. Mitch Davis

    I have watched Jeremiah Johnson over 200 times my highscool quote was keep your nose in the wind and your eye along the skyline.

  3. rebecca L

    Only objection I have about your posting…don’t need to be male to love the movie or the outdoors. I often use some of these sayings as teaching moments at work…some of the best life lines, anywhere.

  4. Geoff Akey

    Jeremiah Johnson left such an impression on me, it has been a part of my personal constitution ever since. And I only watched it once. The second time I watched it was with my eleven year old boys, last year. I was as excited as an eleven year old boy just to be able to share it with them, thru the advanced technology of NetFlix. It was obvious they took it to the core of their being as well. I hope to instill in them the need to preserve the church of the great outdoors, to paraphrase Del Que. And I hope to watch this movie this weekend, thanks to this blog.

  5. corbin hubbard

    It’s not “Grown particular”,

    “What’s on the spit?”
    “Grown particular?”
    “Not about feeding. Just the company I keep.”

    It is“What’s on the spit?”
    “Crow in particular.”
    “Not about feeding. Just the company I keep.”

  6. Uhh.. sorry, but no. Watch the movie. Watch it with subtitles on. Search the web for Jeremiah Johnson script. It’s “Grown particular?” which actually makes sense (“Crow in particular” doesn’t make logical sense).

  7. Chris

    JJ: “Great White Hunter, yes…yes?”
    Swan: “Yes.”

    JJ: “Fine figure of a man, yes?”
    Swan: “Yes.”

    JJ: “That is all you will need to know…for now”

    And just for clarity, regarding, “Ain’t never seen em, but my common sense tells me the Andes is but foothills, and the Alps is for children to climb”, I believe what got left out was, “The Colorado Rockies is the Marrow of the World”.

    As a young romantic, Casablanca was my favorite flick. It still rates as a top all timer, but for me, it waxes and wanes between It’s A Wonderful Life and Jeremiah Johnson, and for many a year, now, it is JJ, all the way.

    One is, “No man is poor who has friends”, at the end, and JJ is, “I’ve been to a town, Del”.

    This movie is beyond words. There are great stretches WITHOUT words, and the scenery, the spirit of it, are just phenomenal. This movie is a part of my constitution, as well, friend. The first time I camped out in Yellowstone, I had to pitch a quick tent before nightfall in a site not for camping, owing to running low on fuel, not wanting to risk exiting the park into Silver City, I believe, Montana. Wamped up some beans and franks, headed to the Lamar River to wash the pot out–stopped, realizing I was in bear country (Griz), and went to bed. I woke early, went to do the washing, and heard grunting, and across the river were (counted in bunches) about 120 Buff, rolling about and mounting one another and such.

    I swear, a tear nearly fell and rolled down my cheek, as I thought, same as Jeremiah did when Swan took off her dress, “Lord”. Give me a good horse and a Hawkin gun, and a good Native woman and the ability to build a damn cabin, and I could stay here forever.

    PEACE and P.S., “And they say he’s out there still”.

  8. Some of my favorites. My two faves in your post are actually in the original post – the one about the Rocky Mtns being the “marrow of the world” and “I’ve been to a town.”

    My other favorite is “Ha? What trouble?”

  9. I like this quote:
    Del:
    “They’ll cut you crotch to
    eyeball with a rusty deer
    antler.”

  10. Allen Rutherford

    I’ve been hiking the AT the last couple of days and one Quote from the movie has been stuck in my head, but I don’t know if I got it right. Bear Claw says to Jeremiah: “Many a man have ventured high up the mountain looking to git something from the mountain that it can’t give.” Like I said this thought or quote has been stuck in my head but I doubt I have it right.

  11. Sounds close, but not quite right. I’ll have to look for that one. There’s just too much quotable stuff from that movie. Down trail!

  12. jim boyce

    i was around 13 yrs old fist time i seen it
    51 now i watch it every chance i have …….
    watchin it now

  13. I wonder how many of the rabid fans are about that age. Of the four that I know, three of us are within a year of you and another is a couple years older. Hit us during the formative years I guess.

  14. I’ve loved this film since my first viewing (saw a ton of great movies as a kid at the drive in, with my young folks, in the late sixties and seventies), but for my money, I need to watch this alone. I asked for it on DVD from my gal’s daughter’s one not too long ago Christmas, and though I was itching to watch it, I just felt it would be a blasphemy and a tragedy all in one, with ANYONE to talk over any part of it, or the phone to ring, or any kind of disturbance whatsoever.

    There are stretches utterly lacking in dialogue, where the landscape inspires, or the stark solitude deserves full, rapt attention. I am not a patient man, per se, but I was patient enough to make sure the house was empty, before I enjoyed my gift.

  15. Well, I recently turned 50 myself. Born in ’65 (when Jackson Browne was 17, I guess).

  16. There ya go! And it took me a second, but yeah, that Jackson Browne song would have been a major high school anthem for both of us. I can still sing it. To the extent that I can sing anything at all, that is.

  17. My best Buddy, Roy, and I frequently refer to lines in the movie, JJ. We were both born in ’55 and Its defined our lives and without saying so, we wouldn’t marry a woman who didn’t completely understand both the meaning and importance of this film. I just recently returned from a trip to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier… Felt the presence of Jeremiah throughout. While in Red Lodge, I visited “Liver Eatin Johnson’s” cabin. This story is based on the truth, with a bit of mountain lore thrown in for our enjoyment.
    Watch your topknot…
    Watch yourn

  18. Yep. Watch yourn. I am so amazed at how much response this post has gotten and to find how many of us there are out there! All the responses here from strangers are one of those things that makes me love the internet. How ironic that it is Jeremiah Johnson that would connect us. I don’t think Jeremiah would have a Facebook account!

  19. Ruth Ann

    This my late husband and my favorite movie. We knew the script by heart, and very often we got to use it in daily living for humor and awe. I still watch it regularly. Not just for guys-we outdoor gals love it too!

  20. pat flores

    kin ya skin a grizz? i can skin …………… skin thatn pilgrim an i’ll gitchanother

  21. Seriously! I forgot that one? The most famous, emblematic and oft-repeated quote from the whole damn movie! Thanks for the heads up Pat. I’ll have to get the exact quote and put it in its proper place above!
    Watch yer topknot

  22. Chris W.

    I’m 53 and seen the movie too many times to count. And watch it any time I see it on. Lots of favorite quotes. Woman, I am your friend. We have graves to dig. When I’m hunting and the silence in the woods is defeaning(sp) I find myself thinking about JJ.

  23. Chris W.

    And I don’t have a Facebook, JJ wouldn’t either!

  24. Me neither. I’m not sure where those icons come from actually… I thought I had anything like that turned off and just noticed they have numbers on them. I’m appalled though. How could a Jeremiah Johnson quotes page only get two shares on Facebook. More proof that I’ve made a good decision by opting out!

    Watch yer topknot

  25. when JJ and griz see the the first indian jj saw later in the movie… jj asks griz “what did he say” and griz says “he said your fishin’ has improved”

  26. Another good one. I’ll need to watch it again with the subtitles on to get the exact transcription. I wonder if they transcribe the Blackfoot (is it Blackfoot?)

  27. wally58

    Great site here as I’ve wanted to find Del Gue’s lines but never have till now. He and Will Geer certainly helped the movie be a classic. I never tire of watching this movie. Both Pollack and Redford deserve huge kudos for this movie. I think it’s Redford’s best work.

    JJ IS one of the top FIVE BEST westerns ever made.

    Top five in no particular order.

    1. Jeremiah Johnson
    2. Man who shot Liberty Valence
    3. The Searchers
    4. Nevada Smith
    5. Tombstone

  28. I love Del’s lines, but especially the ones about the Rockies being the marrow of the earth. As a climber who has spent a lot of time in the Alps and the Rockies, I get a kick out of his comment that the “Alps is for children to climb.”

    I have to say that I’ve never heard of Nevada Smith, but I’ll have to put it on the list. Personally, I would put Unforgiven on the list of greatest westerns. And High Noon too.

  29. How bout,… Scar up and hair over,… was that in JJ?

  30. Tim Scott

    Favorite movie of all time . Redford at his best . Try to get young people to watch it all the time . Love to see other people fell the same about movie . Keep your nose in the wind and your Eye along the skyline. 53 young!

  31. Still lookin’ for the “Scar up and hair over” quote,…

  32. bumpkin

    Ride due west to the sunsets. Turn left at the Rocky Mountains.

  33. don schaefer

    Tom, Thank you for your efforts on this site. I just found it searching for a quote “keeping your nose in the wind and your powder dry”

  34. Music is good as well scenarios are good think about this’s movie quite a bit so fortunate to be able to own a copy. Won’t make a difference hiding in the corn crib, some say your dead, others say your still out their. I personally think the best is the last without saying anything when paints himself red and Jeremiah extend hands and that look on Jeremiah ‘s face now that’s priceless. Mountain men what a breed apart from, any other. Native Americans are special people, we could all learn something from them. Enjoy the honeymoon Jeremiah

  35. Charlie M.

    He just does this to aggravate me.

    I was much the same myself.

    You’re him…aintcha…him?

    Some folks say you’re dead on account of this. Some folks say you never will be…on account of this.

    Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Johnson. Your husband’s told me so much about you.

    Take me three days to reach it. You’ll be there in… Hell, he’s there already.

    And, for the record, I can’t watch the Jeffersons because I hate Bentley so much because of this movie. Religious asswipe! It deeply saddens me to think of how absolutely terrified Caleb must’ve been when he is killed. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.

  36. Charlie M.

    And, for the record, when people asked me what I thought of The Revenant,, I told them I liked it better when it was called Jeremiah Johnson

  37. Thanks for the JJ quotes and also for your quip. I haven’t see The Revenant, but I still plan to steal your line if I get the chance.

  38. I saw it in the Theater when it came out. Have watched it ever since especially with some Army buddies who were like minded. I had the soundtrack on LP and of course it got lost over the years. I paid almost $80.00 for the CD of the soundtrack a few years ago. Oh…The Revenant was a remake of “A Man in the Wilderness”, with Richard Harris (A Man called Horse, from that period as well). Jeremiah Johnson has not been remade…nor should it be. “Keep your nose in the wind, and your eyes on the skyline”.

  39. Ah… this one slipped through without my seeing. I also saw it in the theater when it came out. I was in fifth grade I believe and it defined the future directions of our lives for my friend Geoff (Marines, not Army, BTW) and me. Sadly, though Jeremiah Johnson has not been remade, I recently learned it has been subjected to a sequel about Jeremiah’s sons going to Alaska, which is reputedly a pretty awful movie. I made the mistake of watching the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter movies. I won’t be watching the JJ prequel.

  40. Bill Huber

    My favorite movie of all time. Two things I’d add. I think the sparse dialogue is part of what makes the movie great. As for quotes, all mentioned are worthy, though my favorite is when JJ asked Bearclaw about having a woman, to which he replies, “you mean a full time night woman”?

  41. A lifetime ago I left home for college.
    It was a small town and I settled in with a group of locals, 10 years my senior. They rode Harleys and drove WWII surplus Jeeps, and owned their own construction and repair businesses. Several times each year they took off for the Rockies with rifles and bowie knives, and came back with meat for the freezer (yep, they took the “tenderfoot” along with them). One flew a clunky single engine Cessna in and out of his pasture. His brother owned a small fly-by-night bronze foundry for western art, and that’s where I took a job to pay for schooling. I was a figurative sculptor.
    I’d seen Redford as Jeremiah Johnson and thought to do a sculpture of a mountain man to sell in the galleries. Over a bottle of whiskey one night I mentioned it to my boss, and he quietly slid a book across the table to me and said “read that first”. It was Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson, by Raymond Thorp and Robert Bunker. I read the book, and I did the sculpture – barechested, buckskin breeks, bowie knife in a large fist. My boss and I cast several editions, and he proudly kept one on the mantel over his fireplace, alongside a kerosene lamp and an antique lever action Winchester.

    In this fenced-in, newfangled world of opinionated truth and politically gelded academics, many have disparaged Thorp and Bunker’s book. I’m an old man now with a doctoral degree and years of historical scholarship published in multiple languages, and as I look at their book again I see solid research grounded in primary source accounts. It don’t get no better than that.
    The poodle behind the house window always yaps at the coyote prowling past.

    Jeremiah Johnson is a magnificently poetic work of art film about a magnificently fierce mountain man called liver-eatin’ Johnson.

  42. Thanks for the great story!

    For folks reading this, if you click Oliver’s name in the comment above, it will take you to his page and down at the bottom you’ll see Liver-Eatin’ Johnson!

  43. Bill Kline

    Back in the mid 80s, I had moved to Utah and was there a couple of years. I ended up frequently snow skiing where much of the movie was filmed. At what would later become Robert Redford’s Sundance Ski Resort. Which is also a great place for hiking and climbing. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been. But when I was there the only real reason to “watch your top knot” would be weather related, such as avalanche. I need to go back there soon! Thanks for all the quotes!
    Bill

  44. Danny King

    Myself and my two older brothers were treated to this movie in the theatre by my Dad. I’ll never forget the experience of seeing JJ on the big screen. I have a DVD of the movie that has seen multiple plays! My favorite: Del Gue’s parting shot………Love this! HERE’S A MAN for ya! I’m half horse, half gator, tougher’n a earthquake. I’ve got the prettiest gal, the fastest horse, and the ugliest dog this side of hell. I can out jump, out run, throw down, drag out and whip any man in old Kaintuck.

  45. Sorry it took so long to notice this… I’ve moved 15 tons of gravel in the last few days for a house project (9 tons to go! 18 yards total). Anyway, another quote that I didn’t think of. While moving said gravel with a 24-year-old from up the street, I was telling him about JJ. I’ll have to watch it with him and grab a few more choice quotes.

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